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best way to improve my mechanical skills?

Gee Whizz

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I want to get more hands on with the maintenance and upgrades on my caterham. it seems you guys have so much fun (or is it hair being torn out 😬) that I want a piece of the action.


I am a fairly practical kind of guy and just need to confidence to get on with it.


Car's a 1600 Supersport.


can anyone suggest some reading material or other ways to improve the mechanical skills?


for instance some time in the future I want to upgrade the diff to a LSD - probably with road race transmission. I would prefer to pull the diff out myself to save cost and learn more etc, but I am worried about doing something wrong - car falling apart mid corner and then one big accident going round the corner *confused*


would the best way be to collar someone at the local meeting and ask general advice and maybe a spare set of hands?


Edited by - Gee Whizz on 5 May 2005 16:46:14

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I think the best thing is simply to get on and do it. Have3 a copy of the build manual to hand for reference and the phone number of a friendly local member perhaps. Oh then there's this great place I've found all sorts of really excellent friendly advice.


Errrmmm, now what was the web address. Oh yes that's it. Have a look here 😬.


Once you've done a few jobs on the car your confidence will build very quickly. Just think of it as large scale Meccano *thumbup*.



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  • Support Team

Just go for it - if you get stuck post here and you'll normally get a good response.


I bought my Caterham 2nd hand nearly 3 years ago and this winter I just stripped it to a bare chassis and rebuilt it - you soon work out what goes where 😬. My main advice would be to take lots of pictures before and during any dismantling process and to label everything you remove (I stuck masking tape to everything and wrote on that). Read the manual first so that you understand how the bit you are working on fits back together. I learned the hard way that when there were multiple washers between a bush and a bracket it was for a very good reason and you should put the same number of washers back in the same place 😳.


My only help was Techtalk, a copy of the online build manual (do a search on here for the url) and a couple of good friends who provided the 2nd pair of hands when needed.


Yellow SL *cool* #32

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Its not rocket science........ roll up your sleeves and get on with it. You'll be amazed once you get your elbows covered in grease that how straight forward it is.


Remember.... if your hammering somethin your usually breaking it.


Emerald Isle's 1st SV 148lbft @ 6091rpm/182bhp @ 6690rpm engineered for low revs

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Yeah - I started small (fitting a bike-speedo) and soon moved up to removing the diff to fit a new prop - and eventually on to building and swapping the infamous PSC engine...


...all from a starting point of being able to change a tyre...


Virtually everything was achieved on my own - and based on Blatchat/local friends advice etc. Don't be afraid to ask for help - most (able) people can't resist diving in and getting their hands dirty...


My one big bit of advice is to get the right tools for the job (whatever it is) and make sure they are decent quality. You'll either bugger things up, or frustrate yourself othewise.


Project Scope-Creep is live...


Alcester Racing 7's Equipe - 🙆🏻



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Agree with all of the above, just do it. I built my Duratec SV out here in the Desert with no technical help except Blatchat. It was remarkably easy.

Also the same with the engine, when it came to building a new 2.3 Duratec, I had the choice of getting someone in the UK to build it or do it myself. With a reasonably methodical approach, it has been really easy, but I was scared to do it before I got stuck in, as there were lots of things I had no idea about, like cam timing and shimming.


To quote my favorite Chinese proverb "a journey of a thousand miles, starts with the first step"


Duratec Se7en SV, built in Dubai, pics here! *cool*

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Personally, as a child, I was always in the garage 'helping' my dad fix his cars etc.


I'm not really fazed about anything (car) mechanical really now, apart from modern car electrics.


Also, the main thing that really pees me off, is never having enough good tools.


Enjoy yourself, get some overalls, a box of latex gloves, and a big roll of tissue hung up in the garage, make some good ramps, get good lights, make some space, and be slow and steady. - and typically if you have to use a hammer, you've not got the correct tool.





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No hammer!! It used to be said with old Jags that if you hadn't fixed it you hadn't hit it with a big enough hammer.


If you have the room getting an old scrapper to pull apart might allow you to build up confidence working on something you don't love. I certainly found the thought of wrecking my pride and joy a bit inhibiting - I'd end up using far to small a hammer!


A Rover could yield a second K series engine (even an 1800) - the head alone would be handy if you fancy doing a DIY gasflow and big valve job.

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My Dad completely dismantled and then rebuilt a Standard 10, body and engine, when he was in his teens, just to see how it all worked.


A farm workshop only needs 4 tools:

Large persuader

Large screwdriver

Monkey wrench

Mole grips (large)


Oh, .... and the obligatory heap of old baler twine. *tongue* *tongue* 😬 😬


Keep off the straight and narrow *tongue* 😬

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thanks for the support guys.


I started today and re attached my front Cycle wing after it came dislodged at Upper Heyford down the straight 😬


a fairly simple job but you have to start somewhere *thumbup*


You might see a few posting from me on techtalk in the future though :-)


Thanks for the offer Mark. My car is currently in Herts, but the the folks are moving so I will be keeping it for a short time in Berks near Reading before it makes a more permanent home in West Sussex at the new house.


I think I might have to start coming to the area meetings down in Berks/west london/surrey/Sussex. Perhaps a tour of them all to introduce myself!

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Gee Whizz,


Read all you can here and ask a question or two before turning a wrench.


My recent stalling troubles are a good example. I'm the first to admit I was lost how to figure out what was going on. With all the computer control stuff on a modern engine I'm lost. So I post here and ask questions. Everyone can laugh at me or help if I go too far in the wrong direction.


After a month of going through different things I now have a spark plug tester, a small tool kit I carry in the car, some spare parts for testing, and a better understanding of how to check some things in an order that makes some sense.


I'm still good at standing next to the car and scratching myself. But now I can make up a better story with all of my dangerous new knowledge. 😬




TheCaterhamProject.com - Build site with photos here

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Your comment re Standard 10 rings bells. When I was 17 my mother had a Standard 8. I was told I could have the car providing I stripped it down and rebuilt it. To this end I had the engine out, new mains, big ends, honed all the bores using big 300rpm electric drill and Delapena hones. Decoked the head, lapped all valves in. Once I had done the engine I then had to strip and rebuild all the brakes and front suspension. This was the way to learn. My 21st birthday present was hydraulic crane 😬


After all this I the ended up having to do all my mates cars. 50 odd engine rebuild later we get to the modern day. Try not to do them now, BUT my 'K' series deems otherwise *thumbdown* *thumbdown*.


Best bit of advice I can give GeeWhizz is to buy the best tools you can. My dad taught me a lesson early on, he let me buy a very cheap socket set. Lots of damaged knuckles and rounded nuts later later and I bought decent tools from then on.



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  • 2 weeks later...

cheers chaps,


Colin, It seems my dad has a bit of a thing for socket sets... we were clearing out the garage at the weekend in preperation for a house move, and we seem to have 5 seperate complete socket sets! however not a single one of them have a 41 mm socket! 😬


New Cat, I am living in Chiswick but the caterham is not kept there - I'm just not happy about leaving it parked on the road outside the apartment. I left it there one night but I kept waking up at any noise thinking it was an idiot removing a headlight/bonnet or scratching the paint *mad*


it looks like the head gasket is in the process of giving up the ghost, but as the car is just still in warranty (bought second hand from CC) I think I will leave them to fix it.

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